U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
World is Oyster for Medalist, Stanford Star Aubert
August 9, 2017 | Chula Vista, Calif.
By Bill Fields
When Wendy Rowlands was trading emails with Shannon Aubert in advance of the golfer staying at her home during the 117th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, she mentioned that she and her husband Dave had a year-old golden retriever, Bailey.
Far from being put off by the presence of a pet, Aubert informed her host that she also had a golden that age, a female named Hermés, and is a dog-lover herself.
“She’s bonded with Bailey like that,” Wendy said, crossing her right index and middle fingers, as she watched Aubert play the second round of stroke play at San Diego Country Club on Tuesday. “She’s very comfortable with him.”
Fact is, Aubert, a rising senior at Stanford University, is at ease with most people, places and creatures.
To say that the 21-year-old – who shot a 6-under 66 Tuesday to claim medalist honors at 9-under 135 – is well traveled is a huge understatement. Because her parents, Monica and Christian, used to work in the hotel business, Shannon’s family moved around a lot, so often that it’s hard for her to keep track.
“I was born in France,” said Aubert outside the spacious clubhouse following her round, beginning a tour of her homes. “I’ve lived in South Africa, Mexico, the Caribbean, Switzerland, Singapore, Indonesia, Georgia and Florida, and now in California. There’s one more that I’m missing.”
That would be Morocco, according to an interview Aubert gave a couple of years ago.
“I did most of the moving before I was 12,” said Aubert, who is of South African (mother) and French (father) descent. “When people ask what my favorite place to live is, it’s really hard to say because what a 3-year-old likes is different from maybe what I would like now.”
Not that a few places don't stand out.
“St. Lucia was very cool,” she said. “I was living in a resort, so I got to do whatever I wanted, and it was beautiful. Singapore was very nice. It’s such a global city. They speak English, have amazing food and it’s super hustle and bustle. That was very cool. But I love America.”
Aubert speaks French, English and two German dialects, but being multilingual barely touches the surface when it comes to what her diverse background has meant in shaping her personality.
“It was really cool being part of so many cultures and getting to meet so many different people,” Aubert said. “It’s really helped me be mature, independent and open-minded and respectful of anything and everything.”
It didn’t take long for Aubert to make an impression on Dave Rowlands. “Total poise,” he said. “Great student and great golfer, but an even better human being.”
A sports-loving kid – “If there was a ball or a race or competition, I was all for it,” she said – Aubert started playing golf at age 7, introduced to the game by her mother, a skilled figure skater who performed with Ice Capades and Holiday on Ice. Her father is a former professional skier and ski coach.
“I bought her a child’s club to keep her happy and was astounded to find that she was a complete natural,” Shannon’s mother told The Stanford Daily in 2015.
There was tension at times between Shannon and her mother, who didn’t want her daughter to waste a gift for golf.
“My mom was hard on me, tough on me,” Aubert said. “She pushed me to be better, and that can be hard when you’re 10, 11 or 12. I remember at a young age telling her she couldn’t come watch anymore because she stressed me out too much. But I look back and thank God she was there. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her and my dad, too. But we’re great now. I love when she comes to see me play.”
Her mother was scheduled to travel from Florida, where she is a labor and delivery nurse, to see Shannon compete in match play. Mom won’t be the only familiar face at San Diego Country Club. Aubert’s decorated Stanford teammates Andrea Lee, a member of the 2016 USA Curtis Cup Team, and Albane Valenzuela, who represented Switzerland in the 2016 Olympics, also qualified for match play. Two other members of the Cardinal women’s team, Sierra Kersten and incoming freshman Mika Liu, also a member of the 2016 Curtis Cup Team, did not qualify for match play.
Lauren Dobashi, Stanford assistant coach, had a busy day Tuesday jumping around to see the quintet of players.
“Shannon has grown into a great leader for the team,” said Dobashi. “The way she leads the best is through her energy. That’s what we love about her. She’s got a lot of heart, and I would say she’s the heart of our team. That’s just something you can’t teach.”
To Valenzuela, who is from Switzerland, Aubert is “Fun-Fact Shannon, probably the funniest person on our team and one of the most dedicated persons I know.” Aubert’s generosity is a strength, according to Valenzuela.
“She’s always there to help others. She never thinks just about herself,” said Valenzuela, a rising sophomore. “She is a super teammate. I don’t think she played the same course as us today with that score. She had kind of an up-and-down season, so to see her play that great is awesome. She deserves it more than anyone.”
Aubert, who helped Stanford win the 2015 NCAA title as a sophomore, is contemplating professional golf following college. Her boyfriend, Matthias Schwab, of Austria, graduated from Vanderbilt in May, turned pro and is competing on the European Challenge Tour. While Aubert was going low in California, Schwab was competing in Northern Ireland.
“Being a pro has always been my aspiration, and I’ve been playing golf for so long, the idea of stopping is so far-fetched,” Aubert said. “But you have to be realistic, and see what the possibilities are.”
If professional golf doesn’t pan out, Aubert shouldn’t lack for career options. She is a science, technology and society major at Stanford, getting a B.S. in innovation and organization through a mix of business and engineering classes.
“I always wanted to stay more on the science track,” she said. “If it wasn’t for golf, I probably would have done mechanical engineering.”
For now, Aubert will work on engineering the biggest victory of her golf life.
Bill Fields is a Connecticut-based freelance writer whose work frequently appears on USGA websites.